IUSB purchasing Engman Natatorium, home of Civil Rights Heritage Center

Indiana University South Bend will be purchasing the Engman Public Natatorium, the home of the Civil Rights Heritage Center this month. The purchase will not affect the center.

The former Engman Natatorium on W. Washington Street is currently owned by the South Bend Heritage Foundation. The university is exercising an option to purchase that was included in the lease agreement with the foundation.

“This purchase allows us to expand programs that advance our educational mission in this region while solidifying our commitment to deep engagement with the entire South Bend community regarding civil rights and social justice issues," said Dr. Susan Elrod, Chancellor of Indiana University South Bend.

African Americans were prohibited from swimming at the natatorium when it opened in 1922, but following a legal battle in 1937, they were allowed in once a week.

The natatorium was desegregated in 1950 and closed in 1978.

After it closed, the building went into disrepair. The City of South Bend, the South Bend Heritage Foundation, IU South Bend, and local benefactors worked together to renovate and reopen the facility in May 2010.

“The revitalization of The Natatorium- Civil Rights Heritage Center demonstrates how a community and university working collaboratively can turn a past injustice into a new justice for everyone… we turned a wrong into a right. We are so proud of this commitment,” stated Ms. Gladys Muhammad, Associate Director South Bend Heritage Foundation, Inc.

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